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Voter Registration

Volume 659: debated on Thursday 9 May 2019

The commission carries out regular assessments of the completeness and accuracy of the electoral registers, including how levels of voter registration vary by demographics such as age and ethnicity. The most recent published assessment found that, across Great Britain, 85% of eligible people were correctly registered, and 91% of entries on the register were accurate. The commission’s next study, on the December 2018 registers, is due to be published later this year.

Before every election, the Electoral Commission runs an advertising campaign to get people registered, and it judges the effectiveness by the number of downloads of registration forms. Those advertising campaigns have cost as much as £90 per download. Bite The Ballot, an organisation that recruits young people in schools, can have a 100% success rate in going into sixth forms and getting people on to the electoral register, and it can do that for 25p a time. Will my hon. Friend take that back to the Electoral Commission and ask it to have service level agreements with Bite The Ballot and other organisations that have an effective record on registration?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who I know has a keen interest in ensuring that people are registered to vote. The commission does not currently have service level agreements with other organisations. Instead, it collaborates through informal partnerships. The commission has a responsibility in law to raise awareness. There is plurality in the system, and that is its strength. However, I am sure that officials from the commission would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss what more can be done in this area.

Has the commission made any assessment of the registration of EU citizens to vote in the European Union elections that are about to take place, and whether it would be appropriate for them to be able to take to polling stations on 23 May the form that they are required to have handed in by 7 May if they want to vote in those elections in the UK?

Following the 2014 European parliamentary elections, the commission did identify that the law needed to be simplified so that EU citizens from other member states might register to vote in the UK. However, following the EU referendum, the UK Government made it clear that the parliamentary elections to the European Parliament in 2019 would not take place, and therefore the commission did not continue to develop any further recommendations in this area.